Troy Burne : Wisconsin's Reason For Being

Why is there Wisconsin?

by Kevin Turnquist

Troy Burne. In hindsight these two words were all that I had needed to save face but at that crucial junction in my life they had held little meaning for me. A lengthy tactical struggle ends in ignominious defeat when a self-assured reply of "Troy Burne" was all that was required to claim victory. So goes the life of a therapist.

The case began innocently enough. A paranoid character sentenced to "therapy" in lieu of jail time after threatening a Highway Patrol trooper. Some incident in which a Metro was pushed out of the left lane of East 94 by a guy in a pickup truck . That’s about all I knew going in. Court referrals pay well but they never include any useful clinical information.

When Roy (not his real name) arrived for his first of twelve mandatory sessions he wasted little time in letting me know that he had no problems except for a willingness to fight for the things that he knew to be right. He was certain that the high moral ground belonged to him alone and no amount of "therapy" would cause him to see things differently. I figured the "How Could They Do This To A Man Of Your Stature?" approach was my best opener. Things initially proceeded according to plan. Soon he was spilling all sorts of personal information for me to admire.

The incident with the Geo was, it turns out, only the climax of a longstanding battle involving Roy and all things pertaining to Wisconsin. In my business I tend to see bigotry in all of its’ myriad forms but this case clearly had some unique elements. Roy actually headed a small band of wildly prejudiced crackpots who called themselves "The One Way Bridge Society". I soon learned that the major plank in this group's platform was that all metro area bridges to Wisconsin should carry only east bound traffic. Driving back home via Hastings or Taylors Falls was seen as a fitting penalty for Minnesotans entering Wisconsin. No punishment could be excessive for Wisconsin residents having the temerity to venture into Minnesota. Roy was sure that this change in bridge traffic would solve most of Minnesota’s ills and, like most paranoids, he had constructed an elaborate intellectual house of cards to support his position.

Initially, I opted to simply immerse myself in Roy’s world view without making any effort to correct it. For several weeks he did nothing but outline the many "good reasons" for his hatred. In his mind people from Wisconsin were plainly parasites who sucked good things out of his beloved Twin Cities without contributing anything in return. Working in Minnesota without paying Minnesota taxes or even driving on our roads with red and white license plates was just plain cheating to Roy. And Roy had no use for cheaters. He believed western Wisconsin was becoming a bedroom community populated solely by people who lacked the moral fiber to be Minnesotans.

Listening to Roy bluster on about "slack jawed Packer fans" was a textbook exercise in xenophobia. Every negative attribute that could be attached to a human was seen in these green and gold clad invaders. "Disgusting, foul smelling, inbred, ignorant mouth breathers" he would snarl after his frequent reconnaissance missions to Gabes In The Park. References to cheese eaters, curdheads, and "slimers" (a term referring to their penchant for drinking Special Export beer) were so common that they soon lost any emotional relevance. It was only when he was at his peak of rage that he would use his favorite term for these hated others. When Roy grunted out "Wisconsonite" you knew that he was ready to blow.

Eventually we began to explore the incident which had led to his sentence of psychotherapy. I learned that to Roy and his band of miscreants the far left lane of Highway 94 going eastbound was known solely as "The Wisconsin Lane". Nothing disturbed him more than the nightly parade of vehicles headed for Hudson, hugging the passing lane regardless of whether faster traffic was coming from behind or the adjoining lane was vacant. "These morons get into the left lane and just stay in it until they have to exit" he explained when asked what would prompt someone to force another vehicle off the road. The One Way Bridgers had taken on the mission of patrolling this stretch of freeway themselves. A few too many Grain Belts and one too many middle finger salutes emanating from the aforementioned Geo Metro had culminated in Roy's decision to take matters into his own hands. The tiny vehicle had proven no match for the superior horsepower of his enormous RamCharger. If the unmarked Highway Patrol car hadn’t been in view the event would have been, in Roy's little mind, an unqualified success.

When faced with elaborately fixed delusional systems of the kind held by Roy the therapist has few options. Medications are potentially helpful for this degree of paranoia but I knew there was no way to even safely broach the subject with him. Appealing to his belief that he was an intellectually superior human seemed to hold the most promise. I gradually introduced him to standard Freudian ideas about projection. Seeing the undesirable or unacceptable parts of the self in the stranger was an idea that he claimed to understand perfectly. Of course he could never come to believe that this was going on with him. When racism and bigotry are abolished everywhere else on the planet paranoiacs like Roy will still be absolutely certain that their enemies are real.

Desensitization seemed like a logical option after the intellectual approach had failed. Sessions nine and ten were spent walking around downtown Hudson in the hopes that exposure to the natives would make them seem less loathsome. I tried to impress upon him the commonalities of speech and attire between people who inhabited western Wisconsin and those who lived in the Twin Cities. This approach appeared to hold some promise until an elderly lady made an innocent remark about Roy's purple and gold sweatsuit. The ensuing shoving match caused a premature end to this line of treatment and a hasty retreat across the still bidirectional I-94 bridge.

As our time came towards a close I felt my last hope was to try a final appeal to Roy’s enormous sense of grandiosity. I told him that the hallmark of a truly superior human being was the capacity to be kind and tolerant towards those less fortunate than one’s self. He readily accepted the idea that he was an exceptional example of humanity. That those from Wisconsin were less fortunate than him was taken as fact. Clearly I had him on the ropes.

In retrospect there was no way to anticipate the brilliance of his next tactic. Just when victory was seemingly within my grasp he proposed a thought experiment. "Suppose that a wormhole in the fabric of spacetime existed. This wormhole would allow anyone to pass from the Minnesota border immediately to Chicago without having to traverse Wisconsin. Is there any conceivable reason why a person wouldn’t use this route every time he had the chance?" Stunned by this sudden turn of events, I halfheartedly mumbled something about the Wisconsin Dells being a nice place. But I knew he had me. When pressed to come up with a single reason why the universe needed to have a Wisconsin I had come up empty. Troy Burne. That’s all that I had needed to say.

Troy Burne was already set apart as an unusual golf course before we had slashed our drives off the first tee. Driving to the clubhouse we had noticed an army of greenskeeping staff out tending to the course, a greater work force than we’d seen at any two Minnesota courses combined. Large, sculptured traps filled with reddish-brown sand were everywhere. The fact that one member of our group had had the audacity to wear blue jeans that rainy morning resulted in severe chastisement from the starter. Even our lofty position as golf course reviewers could not protect us from the ire of this gentleman, prompting questions on the first tee about what would have happened if Sculati had also shown up in metal spikes and an uncollared shirt.

The first hole is a par five that plays anywhere from 530 to 600 yards depending on which tee is chosen. Unlike most of the holes here it offers a bit of tree trouble and we wasted no time in finding it. To our surprise, however, that was about the only time trees came into play and one of the few occasions in the entire round where we weren’t able to walk right up to our balls. Tees are generally elevated to a point where the entire hole is visible from the tee. No unseen hazards or ridiculously skinny fairways are needed to make this course play tough. Difficulty is provided by length (7003 yards from the "Lehman tees", 6505 from the championship), open style rough, the omnipresent bunkers, and a layout which often dares one to take chances.

The relative absence of trees, the rolling fairways and the cute faux- Scottish name have invited descriptions as a "links- style" course but this didn’t seem an adequate portrayal to us. Waste bunkers are infrequent and water comes into play on eight holes. We were more drawn to the term "amphitheater course". Most holes here were marked by wide fairways lined by sloping mounds that kept errant shots in play. This terrain tends to emphasize the individual character of each hole, often making adjoining holes invisible from one’s fairway. The mounds will also provide wonderful vantage points for spectators. Fortunately, no gallery was present for our hideous round that morning.

While the past is, indeed the best predictor of the future, sometimes truisms can get a person in trouble. Underdressing based on yesterday’s weather is not always a good idea. At least one of us had his worst round of 1999 on that frigid August morning. Being cold, wet, hungover, surly, and playing terribly can bias one’s opinion of a golf course. There is so much to like about this course, though, that before 18 holes were completed we were already debating Troy Burne's place in the hierarchy of Metro area golf courses.

Rush Creek and The Wilds are the two superpremium golf courses in the greater Twin Cities that we have traditionally held out as the best in the area. A quick poll found each member of our group rating Troy Burne ahead of each of those illustrious challengers (although no one rated it above the behemoth from Biwabik). Everything about Troy Burne is well thought out and the course can play as hard as they want it to. The big bent grass greens are multi-tiered and allow for an enormous variety of pin placements. Driving angles change based on which tees are used. Par threes are not overly long but are very well protected, demanding accurate shotmaking to have a chance at par. One of them, the 125 yard 15th has an amazing bunker guarding it. With a retaining wall rising about 10 feet straight up it’s front side the average golfer could bring a large bucket of range balls into this trap and not put one on the green.

Set on 420 lovingly landscaped acres, no one will ever call Troy Burne a dog track. The dog track is five miles to the north on county road F and doesn’t look at all like Troy Burne. At roughly 20 miles from The Cities it is really no farther out than Rush Creek or The Wilds. $75 rounds ($88 with cart) aren’t cheap but are a little more reasonable than the C note required to play Rush Creek. Clubhouse facilities are first rate. Importing Paninos sandwiches and Summit Pale Ale from Minnesota adds a touch of class.

The controversy about building a new bridge across the scenic St. Croix river is bound to continue. And yes, there will be those who will argue that since western Wisconsin contributes nothing –economically or culturally-to the Twin Cities there is no reason to build such a bridge. But from this day forward the pro-bridge contingent will have a new battle cry. A new reason to support the formerly senseless idea of intentionally traveling to Wisconsin. Troy Burne.

Want more? Visit Troy Burne's excellent web site.

From their web site:

Tees/Hole

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

OUT

Lehman

600

450

172

342

591

355

395

222

464

3591

Championship

561

421

154

312

562

339

369

202

455

3375

Resort

530

393

125

270

526

304

339

166

391

3044

Par

5

4

3

4

5

4

4

3

4

36

Handicap

3

5/7

17

13

1

11

9

15

7/5

 

Hole

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

IN

Lehman

420

176

483

193

464

144

617

445

470

3412

Championship

392

150

446

174

427

125

598

395

423

3130

Resort

360

122

407

149

380

98

531

359

387

2793

Par

4

3

5

3

4

3

5

4

4

35

Handicap

12

16

4

14

6

18

2

10

8